Hosts Leeward Islands Hurricanes will raise the curtain on next month’s historic Regional Super50 Cup in Antigua, as Cricket West Indies hosts its first domestic tournament since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic last March.
In the itinerary released Monday by CWI, Hurricanes, losing finalists in the last Super50 staged in 2019, will clash in the opening match against Windward Islands Volcanoes at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on February 7.
Coolidge, recently acquired by CWI, will host the bulk of matches in the novel bio-secure environment, including the two semi-finals on February 24 and 25, and the final carded for February 27.
One match will be played each day of the competition with the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium hosting six fixtures.
Last year, CWI was unable to host the tournament after being forced to abort the last two rounds of the first-class championship, and then scrap all of its scheduled international home series due to COVID-19.
The staging of the Super50 Cup is expected to be a precursor to a packed international home series that will see the likes of Sri Lanka, Australia, Pakistan and South Africa touring in the coming months.
Chief executive Johnny Grave said all the major stakeholders had worked in collaboration to ensure the tournament could be played amid the challenging environment.
“A huge amount of planning and work has been put in to ensure that the Super50 Cup can return,” Grave said in a statement.
“And CWI would like to offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, title partners CG Insurance, our host broadcasters ESPN Caribbean and our colleagues at the Leeward Islands Cricket Board and the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association, for all of their support in helping to stage the tournament during these unprecedented times.”
The Bermuda-based Colonial Group, now rebranded CG Insurance, will sponsor the tournament for the second time, and CEO Naz Farrow said the company’s involvement was especially important because of the unusual circumstances involved.
“We are happy to support the many players and organizers involved and recognize the major efforts that have gone into the preparation of this event during these unique times,” he said.
Players and officials will be tested in their respective home territories before travelling to Antigua where they will be tested again, before being placed in a bio-secure bubble.
Following a four-day quarantine, players will be allowed to train while remaining in their team bubble.
Testing, which will be facilitated by the Ministry of Health here in conjunction with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), will continue for players and officials throughout the tournament.
Health authorities in Antigua and Barbuda reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, taking the number of active cases to 25. The country has recorded 201 infections overall.
Six franchises will play 19 matches in a round-robin format at Coolidge and the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
However, West Indies Emerging Players will not defend the title they captured when they stunned Hurricanes in a lopsided final at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad 14 months ago.
Barbados Pride, Guyana Jaguars, Jamaica Scorpions, and Trinidad and Tobago Red Force are the four other sides doing battle for the Clive Lloyd Trophy.